While appraising the performance of my team annually, I have made this practice of asking them to tell me about my weaknesses. Or in other words, let me know how I can help them better as a leader, or what are the areas they feel where I did not do what they expected me to do.
Main reason was to get genuine feedback about me so that I could improve myself. Though not all team members were as forthcoming thinking that I would not take criticism lightly, but most came forward. And this year my decision was reinforced when I got to know that some of them were bitching about me in front of others. So without accusing them, I asked them generally to tell my weaknesses to me and not to others, as that will help neither them nor me. Because until I know what they don’t like about me, I will keep doing the same thing which helps no one.
First thing I was told was that I am not assertive. I knew about that but have posted my dilemma in another post here. The fact I did not realize was that it was also seen as impacting the working of my team. So one colleague, whom I call and will call here also my happy-friend (she is almost always cheerful and energetic, and because she is like a sister I never had, her happiness is infectious for me, specially when I am not in good mood.) enlightened me that when she is asked to do some job by some other senior, she expects me to fight for her. That was news to me. I thought of her as being ambitious and was under the impression that she did not might being approached directly by CEO office or HOD. So note to myself. Though I am not very sure if whole team would like this approach for the same reason.
Another member told me that I was not utilising the team members effectively. Hmm, that again was news to me. I did not tell it to her lest she think that I am taking it personally or not accepting criticism fairly, but whenever I gave her any job, 80 per cent of the time she forgot and I had to remind her to do that job. So if she was not able to take normal overload, what if I tried to utilise her properly. But anyways that was also a feedback on how I am perceived by others, versus what I think of myself.
Another colleague told that he was okay with my learn by practice, trial & error, and not spoon-feeding policy. But he pointed out that at times when he came to me for help, he had exhausted all resources, tried his level best and then came to me. And even at that stage I asked him to go to other departments again and try. Well that was another side of me I did not know of. So this criticism was fair and I am working on improving myself.
A team member told that I was ignoring her and not treating her as a part of the team. Actually she was working with another senior colleague and I was under the impression that her job was limited to that only. On her pointing out, I saw the work order and noticed that she was right. I was at fault. I asked her to take up more jobs which she took up very positively. And I learnt yet another lesson.
Then there is one senior who feels that I am not giving him due respect. He expects me to suck up to him which is not my cup of tea. And he is telling this to one and all, but not to me. Missing a pair, maybe.
I also have this bad habit of promoting my team members as in giving credit to them even when both of us have together done the job. I personally feel that credit to junior is credit to me only. But lately I have found some seniors interpreting it as me not working at all and getting all the jobs done through juniors. Huh, life is strange. I am still persisting with promoting juniors because I think I need to be a better team leader, even if I don’t have a leader who respects my style. Though I think at times if all my seniors feel that I am not giving due respect to them, just because I am encouraging juniors to get limelight.
Even my late-sitting habit is a weakness as seen by peers. Because as I read somewhere it puts them in bad light, without my intending so. Because I am sitting late, and they are not, so I become the good guy at their cost, that’s what they think.
The list is endless, will update some other day, or in part-2.